Thetraveljunkie.org – Riga, Latvia is a must-see destination for travel junkies visiting Eastern Europe. So what do you do if you only have a day to see Riga before coming back to Stockholm with a cruise? Plan carefully and see the highlights. Here’s what you can do with a day in Riga, Latvia.
01). Visit Old Town Riga
Old Town is where many of Riga’s must-see sights are located. Here, you’ll see the House of Blackheads on Town Hall Square, Riga Church, the remains of Riga’s defensive structures, and St. Peter’s Church. The lookout tower of St. Peter’s Church is excellent for seeing Riga from above, which is a good way to say you have seen a lot of Riga, including the River Daugava and the Moscow District, very quickly.
An excursion to see the main sights of Old Town Riga will only take a couple of hours, provided you have a good map and a decent sense of direction. However, it is easy to get turned around in Old Town, so if you want to see specific sights, mark them out and plan your path through the medieval streets. Along the way, be sure to take in the architecture and open spaces of the old town. You’ll see a variety of styles and may catch fairs or performances on squares.
02). Lunch like a Latvian
After your wander of the Old Town, get lunch either in the historic district or close to the Art Nouveau district, where you’ll be going next. Restaurants in the tourist areas unquestionably charge higher prices than elsewhere in Riga, and if you don’t have a lot of time, it may be difficult to find a restaurant that caters to a budget.
However, if you’re in the mood for well-priced Latvian food, walk to south of Old Town Square. Sausages, potatoes, ham, and soups are only some of the menu items that will fill you up quickly on traditional cuisine.
03). Learn about Javanese Culture
Across the square, the Riga Bourse Museum boasts a large collection of 17th- to 18th-century fine arts as well as a sweeping view of Dome Square from the top floor window. And in this museum, you can to learn about Javanese culture with artists and the last age of exotic collections.
One of my favourite is a ‘Portrait of Raden Saleh’ (1841), born to a noble Javanese family in 1811, Raden Saleh was a child prodigy whose talents brought him to the attention of the Dutch colonial administration, which arranged for a scholarship that took him to the Netherlands, where he swiftly established a successful career as a professional painter, regularly receiving commissions from the crown for prestigious portraits. Influenced by Delacroix and Vernet, his work is credited with importing western technique into tropical Asian painting — a heady combination of high European Romanticism and reverse Orientalism — but it was his determined cultivation of his social circumstances that make his story utterly unique.
04). Riga Town Hall Square
Visiting a main square is one of the best ways to get an authentic feel for a city – and the same goes for Riga. At the city’s Town Hall Square, you can see some of the town’s most unique architecture – including Riga’s iconic House of Blackheads – as well as, of course, the Town Hall. Riga’s Old Town is relatively small, but the Town Hall Square is one of the most prominent photo spots and a great place to start your trip.
05). See Art Nouveau Riga
It would be a shame to visit Riga without seeing some of its most remarkable examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Though Riga has over 800 existing Art Nouveau buildings, the most concentrated collection of them can be found in the area of Elizabetes and Alberta streets. In fact, for a quick look, Alberta Street is your best bet, while Elizabetes will require more time dedication. Spend an hour or more viewing these historic treasures that make Riga so distinct and offer such a strong impression to visitors from all around the world.
06). Occupation Museum
Currently housed in the former U.S. Embassy building on Raina bulvaris (one block from the Freedom Monument), the museum explains in detail the dark days of Latvia’s Soviet and Nazi occupations during and after WWII. Knowledgeable guides give 45-minute tours in English everyday at 14:00, and the personal tidbits they share will give you a fuller picture of the damage done.
07). Relax at the Bastejkalna Park
Located beside from the Freedom Monument, beacon of Latvian independence since 1935 is Bastejkalna Park, a quiet, peaceful oasis tucked between Old Town and the rest of Riga. You can stroll along the water, take a little boat ride or even catch some local Riga wildlife.
08). Visit the Central Market
If you are departing Riga from train or bus station, check out the Central Market, located nearby, if you have time. Five hangars and outdoor stalls sell a variety of Latvian and international produce, from seafood to cheeses, to meats, to fruits and vegetables. The Central Market is an intriguing combination of sights and smells and is great for people-watching, too. Here you can pick up a last-minute snack or souvenir to remind you of your brief stay in the Latvian capital city.
Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Riga, Latvia.
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